Welcome relief in the form of a federal funding boost of $39 billion is now helping after-school and summer programs to reopen and stay open.
The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, passed in early March, provides a total of $123 billion to support families, K-12 schools, and the childcare sector.
What does ARP mean for summer and after-school programs?
The financial lifeline is specifically for "evidence-based activities" to address learning loss. These activities can be summer learning programs, extended day, or after-school programs.
This financial package is welcome news to the childcare industry that suffered through the pandemic. Skyrocketing costs and declining enrollment put many programs and childcare centers at risk of closing. Many switched to a virtual program delivery, a novel concept in many cases. The result was many failed to attract the same number of participants as the in-person program.
As parents head back to work, after-school programs are now ramping up again and returning to full capacity.
Now that financial relief is on its way, the challenge is to find the best way to use these funds and track where they eventually go. Better data collection will enable programs to spend on services that offer the most value.